The experience of dining, unfortunately, might not be as sexy as it once was,” admits Angie Mar, executive chef and owner of the Boondocks Hunter x Hunter Friends shirt Besides,I will do this Beatrice Inn. She’s not just talking about her restaurant but all of the city’s restaurants: Starting June 22, they’re allowed to serve for outdoor dining as New York enters Phase 2 of reopening. It’s a step forward, sure, but it’s one into the gordian knot that is pandemic life, where everyone wants to get back to business…without causing things to get worse. (Six U.S. states have seen a record spikes in coronavirus cases since easing shutdown laws.) Maintaining that delicate balance requires some serious changes for both restaurants and their patrons. Here’s what to expect: At every eatery, waiters must now wear masks, all employees must undergo temperature checks, and tables will be six feet apart. Occupancy must be at less than 50%. Then there are sanitation measures: High-touch surfaces have to be cleaned again, again, and again. (Customers are not required to wear masks at the table, though the question of where to put one’s mask is still up for debate. Johns Hopkins recommends storing it in a clean place, which may warrant bringing your own mask-specific pouch—though some restaurants in Hong Kong have provided paper-bag pouches.) Many restaurants are also taking extra measures beyond city requirements to ensure the safety of their guests, their staff, and, well, society. Mar, for one, is looking at a touchless solution to menus, where you scan a barcode and the menu appears on your phone. She may implement time limits: In the olden days, one could languish at a table undisturbed for hours, but she needs to flip them for financial reasons when operating at such limited capacity. Mar also suspects that some restaurants will require diners to sign waivers consenting to contact tracing or absolving the restaurant of responsibility in case they contract COVID-19. “We live in a very litigious world, and I think that a lot of business owners are going to feel the need to protect themselves,” she says. Some are turning to technology to help. Resy, the online reservation app used by upscale restaurants around town, has launched several new in-platform services. With its capacity monitor, a restaurant can set a guest limit and get notifications when it’s close to reaching it. Once it does, Resy will automatically disable online reservations.
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